In the modern era, pets have become more than just animals. They are a part of our families, and you may feel like your dog or your cat is your best friend, especially after the pain and turmoil of a divorce. Having the emotional support of an animal you love is important, and that is why many spouses work diligently to take custody of their pets after separating.
Unfortunately, this represents a source of conflict in many cases. Both spouses often want to take possession of the family pet, and it can be tricky to determine who should take custody. If you want to make sure that your divorce is handled correctly, it is best to team up with a qualified, experienced attorney in Georgia. These legal experts can help you with many aspects of your divorce, including the fate of your beloved pets.
Pets are Classified as Property in Georgia
Although this might sound like a cold, emotionless way of looking at things, pets are considered pieces of property in the state of Georgia. This means that this situation is handled in a completely different manner compared to child custody, for example. Georgia follows a system called equitable division when it comes to property. This means that all property is split equally between spouses. If you take possession of your pet, your spouse would then receive another asset or piece of property of equal value, or vice versa.
Judges are Starting to Take a More Considerate Stance
While it is true that pets are considered property in Georgia, this does not mean that judges approach the situation completely free of emotion and consideration. Judges in Georgia understand how much pets mean to people, and they may be willing to consider special factors, such as:
Who had a closer relationship with the pet?
Who took a more active role in caring for the pet?
Who spent more time with the pet?
Is there any evidence of neglect or animal abuse committed by either spouse?
Did You Acquire Your Pet Before the Marriage?
Pet custody is easy to determine if you acquired your pet before getting married. Assets and properties that you acquired prior to the marriage are considered “separate property.” This means that you will keep possession of your dog or cat if you already owned it prior to getting married. On the other hand, your pet is considered “marital property” if you and your spouse acquired him/her during the marriage. Marital property is subject to division.
The Pet Often Follows the Child
Pet custody often goes hand in hand with child custody. If one spouse has sole custody of the child, a judge will often decide that it is in the child’s best interest to remain with their pet, as it could offer them some degree of emotional support during this difficult time.
Is Joint Pet Custody Possible?
In rare situations, a judge might agree to some form of joint pet custody, where spouses share ownership of a pet.
Get Legal Help Today
If you are determined to keep possession of your pet, reach out to Lankford & Moore Law today. We will help you keep hold of what is rightfully yours.